Report critical of Veterans Home administration
ST. PAUL — A new report by the Legislative Auditor’s Office says financial oversight at Minneapolis Veterans Home was so sloppy that some residents paid too much for care and some staff nearly doubled their salaries in unauthorized overtime.
Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles made the conclusions in a report Wednesday.
"The Minneapolis home did not fulfill its financial management responsibilities," the report said.
The report identified 18 problems occurring between 2005 and mid-2007. All the problems persisted after Gov. Tim Pawlenty moved control of the home to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
The home had inadequate internal controls to protect residents’ assets and trust accounts, monitor the cost of care and keep accurate payroll records, the report said.
Among the findings, the report said that nine nurses and aides received $204,000 for overtime, but work schedules showed only half of the 1,077 overtime hours they logged. In addition, the home’s management hired 78 employees at starting pay higher than allowed by state personnel rules.
The audit also noted the home could not find eight pieces of equipment valued at $50,000, including an air compressor and a computer projector, and it spent $58,000 in donations without authorization.
Five of the 18 problems have been corrected, and the rest will be fixed next year, said Gil Acevedo, Veterans Affairs deputy commissioner in charge of the five state-owned veterans homes.
"You have to realize that this is a different home now," Acevedo said Wednesday. "While we’re still making improvements, the financial and care control systems are much better and the spirit of people at the home is greatly improved."
The legislative audit did not address issues of resident care.
However, the Department of Justice is investigating whether residents are getting adequate care. Federal investigators visited the home last Thursday and will begin an intensive visit late in January, Acevedo said.
The home has been cited for care infractions in the past, but state health officials say it is now in compliance with state regulations.
A new administrator was appointed to run the home last month.